Infrared Floor Heating vs Electric Floor Heating: Which Is Right for You?

Imagine the comfort of stepping onto a warm floor on a chilly morning. Radiant floor heating can make this a reality, transforming your home into a cozy haven. But choosing the right system can be daunting. Did you know that infrared floor heating can cut your heating bills by up to 40% compared to traditional systems? Meanwhile, electric floor heating offers unmatched ease of installation and maintenance-free operation.

In this post, I’ll guide you through the differences between infrared and electric floor heating. You’ll discover which option best suits your needs, ensuring your home stays warm efficiently and cost-effectively. Let’s dive in and find the perfect heating solution for you!

Keynote: Infrared Floor Heating vs Electric Floor Heating

Infrared floor heating provides direct, efficient heat to objects, making it ideal for well-insulated homes. Electric floor heating is easier to install and perfect for small spaces or retrofits. Choose based on your specific heating needs and insulation quality for optimal comfort and efficiency.

What is Floor Heating?

Floor heating, also known as radiant floor heating, involves the installation of heating elements beneath the floor surface to provide warmth. Unlike traditional heating methods that heat the air in a room, radiant floor heating warms the floor and the objects in the room directly. This approach offers several advantages:

  1. Even Heat Distribution: Radiant floor heating provides consistent warmth across the entire floor, eliminating cold spots.
  2. Energy Efficiency: By heating the floor directly, radiant systems can be more energy-efficient, reducing energy bills by up to 30%.
  3. Improved Air Quality: Without the need for forced air circulation, these systems reduce the distribution of dust and allergens.
  4. Silent Operation: Radiant heating systems operate quietly, unlike traditional systems that may produce noise from radiators or blowers.

Types of Floor Heating Systems

Several types of floor heating systems are available, with infrared and electric floor heating being two of the most popular options.

Infrared Floor Heating

Infrared floor heating uses infrared radiation to heat objects and people directly. These systems consist of thin panels or mats installed beneath the floor surface. Key benefits include:

  • Infrared heating is highly efficient, with minimal heat loss and fast heat-up times.
  • Lower installation and operational costs make it a budget-friendly option.
  • Infrared systems can often be controlled individually for each room, allowing for precise temperature management.

Electric Floor Heating

Electric floor heating systems use electric cables or mats to generate heat. These systems are ideal for small-scale projects like bathrooms and kitchens. Key features include:

  • Electric systems are relatively easy to install, especially in renovations where lifting existing floors might not be feasible.
  • Once installed, electric floor heating systems require minimal maintenance.
  • Compatible with various floor types, including tile, stone, laminate, and carpet.

How Infrared Floor Heating Works

Infrared floor heating uses infrared radiation to heat objects directly and people in the room, rather than the air. This method works similarly to how the sun warms the Earth. Infrared panels or films installed under the floor emit infrared waves, which are absorbed by surfaces and objects, including furniture and people.

This creates a comfortable, evenly distributed warmth without the air movement associated with traditional heating systems. The absence of air circulation minimizes heat loss and improves energy efficiency, making infrared heating an efficient solution for indoor comfort.

Installation Process

Installing an infrared floor heating system involves several key steps:

  1. Base Preparation: The floor surface must be clean, dry, and level. Any existing flooring materials that could interfere with the installation should be removed.
  2. Laying Infrared Film: The infrared heating film is laid out on the prepared surface. This film can be cut to fit the specific dimensions of the room, ensuring full coverage.
  3. Insulation Layer: A layer of insulation may be placed beneath the infrared film to maximize efficiency by directing heat upwards.
  4. Connecting to Electrical Circuit: The infrared film is connected to the electrical circuit through a thermostat or control unit. This step typically requires a professional electrician to ensure safe and correct wiring.
  5. Final Flooring: The chosen flooring material, such as tile, laminate, or carpet, is installed over the infrared film, completing the installation process.


  • Infrared heating is highly efficient, with minimal heat loss and the ability to warm a room quickly.
  • Once installed, infrared floor heating systems require little to no maintenance, providing a hassle-free heating solution.
  • Infrared heating is environmentally friendly, producing fewer carbon emissions compared to traditional heating systems.


  • The initial installation cost of infrared floor heating can be higher than other heating methods due to the cost of materials and professional installation.
  • To maximize efficiency and effectiveness, infrared heating works best in well-insulated properties that retain heat effectively.

How Electric Floor Heating Works

Electric floor heating systems operate by using electric cables or mats embedded beneath the flooring to generate heat. These systems convert electrical energy into heat, which radiates upwards from the floor surface. The heat is evenly distributed across the floor, creating a warm and comfortable environment.

The system can be controlled via a thermostat, allowing you to set and maintain the desired temperature. The direct heating method of electric floor heating ensures quick and efficient warming of the room.

Installation Process

Installing an electric floor heating system involves several key steps:

  1. Subfloor Preparation: Ensure the subfloor is clean, dry, and level. Any debris or unevenness can affect the installation and performance of the heating system.
  2. Laying Electric Mats or Cables: Pre-woven electric mats are laid out on the prepared subfloor. These mats can be cut to fit around obstacles and corners without cutting the cables themselves. Loose electric cables are arranged in a specific pattern, typically using a series of clips or a mesh system to keep them in place.
  3. Insulation Layer: Adding an insulation layer beneath the heating elements can improve efficiency by directing heat upwards.
  4. Connecting the Control System: The heating elements are connected to a thermostat and the electrical circuit. This step usually requires a licensed electrician to ensure safe and compliant wiring.
  5. Final Flooring: The chosen flooring material, such as tile, laminate, or carpet, is installed over the heating elements, completing the system.


  • Electric floor heating systems are relatively simple to install, especially in smaller areas like bathrooms or kitchens, making them a cost-effective option for targeted heating needs.
  • These systems can be easily integrated into existing homes without the need for significant structural changes, making them ideal for retrofitting during renovations.


  • Electric floor heating can result in higher utility bills due to the cost of electricity, especially in larger spaces or colder climates where the system may need to run for extended periods.
  • If not installed correctly, uneven heating can occur, leading to cold spots or areas of excessive warmth. Proper installation and careful planning are essential to ensure consistent heat distribution.

Cost Comparison

Upfront Costs

Infrared panels or films typically range from $100 to $500 per unit, depending on size and power output. Installation generally costs around $75 per square meter. The total cost can vary based on the complexity of the installation and the specific system chosen. Professional installation might add to the overall expense, but DIY options are available for simpler setups.

Electric heating mats or cables can cost between $10 and $20 per square foot. The total cost depends on the area to be heated and the type of electric heating system used. Installation costs for electric floor heating are usually lower for small areas. The overall expense might range from $50 to $100 per square meter, including professional labor. DIY installation kits are also available, which can reduce costs.

Cost ComponentInfrared Floor HeatingElectric Floor Heating
Material Costs$100 – $500 per unit$10 – $20 per sq. ft.
Installation Costs~$75 per sq. meter$50 – $100 per sq. meter

Operating Costs

Energy Consumption: Infrared heating is highly efficient, as it directly warms objects and people rather than the air. This can lead to lower energy consumption compared to traditional heating methods. Infrared systems can reduce energy bills by up to 30% due to their direct heating approach and quick heat-up times. Infrared systems are virtually maintenance-free, which means lower long-term costs.

Electric floor heating tends to have higher operating costs due to electricity prices. The cost can vary significantly depending on the size of the area being heated and the local electricity rates. While efficient for small spaces, electric heating systems may consume more energy over time, especially in larger areas or colder climates. Electric systems require minimal maintenance once installed, but potential repairs to the electrical components can add to the long-term costs.

Cost ComponentInfrared Floor HeatingElectric Floor Heating
Energy ConsumptionLower, highly efficientHigher, depends on area
Maintenance CostsMinimalMinimal but potential repairs

Energy Efficiency and Environmental Impact

Energy Consumption

Infrared heating systems are highly efficient as they directly heat objects and people rather than the air. This direct transfer of heat reduces energy wastage and ensures a higher conversion rate of energy into usable heat. This system can operate at lower temperatures while providing the same comfort level, leading to reduced energy consumption. They are known to cut energy usage by up to 40% compared to traditional heating systems.

Electric floor heating systems are also efficient, particularly in small areas. They convert nearly 100% of the electrical energy into heat. However, because they heat the floor surface and then the room, some energy is lost in the process. Electric floor heating can consume more energy than infrared systems, especially in larger areas or regions with high electricity costs. The operating costs are influenced by the local electricity rates and the area being heated.

FactorInfrared Floor HeatingElectric Floor Heating
Energy Conversion EfficiencyVery High (direct heating)High (near 100% electrical to heat)
Energy ConsumptionLower (up to 40% less energy)Higher (varies by area and usage)

Environmental Impact

Infrared heating systems typically have a lower carbon footprint due to their efficient energy use. By consuming less energy, they indirectly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These systems are compatible with renewable energy sources like solar panels. This compatibility further reduces their environmental impact, making them an eco-friendly heating option.

The environmental impact of electric floor heating depends largely on the source of the electricity. If the electricity comes from fossil fuels, the carbon footprint can be significant. However, if renewable energy sources power the system, the environmental impact is greatly reduced. This heating system can also be powered by renewable energy sources. Integrating these systems with solar or wind power can mitigate their environmental impact.

FactorInfrared Floor HeatingElectric Floor Heating
Carbon FootprintLower (efficient energy use)Varies (depends on electricity source)
Renewable Energy CompatibilityHigh (ideal for solar power)High (can use renewable energy)

Application Scenarios

Best Use Cases for Infrared Floor Heating

Infrared floor heating is particularly effective in specific scenarios where its unique advantages can be fully leveraged:

  1. Well-Insulated Homes: Infrared heating works best in well-insulated properties that retain heat efficiently. The direct heating method ensures that less energy is wasted, making it an ideal choice for homes with good insulation.
  2. Targeted Heating Needs: Infrared systems are excellent for targeted heating, such as in specific rooms or areas that require frequent and quick warming. They can be individually controlled, providing flexibility and energy savings by heating only occupied spaces.
  3. Quick Heat-Up Requirements: Infrared heating provides rapid warmth, making it suitable for areas that need to be heated quickly, such as bathrooms and bedrooms. This quick response time enhances comfort without waiting for the entire room to warm up.
  4. Eco-Friendly Considerations: For homeowners aiming to reduce their carbon footprint, infrared heating is a great option due to its lower energy consumption and compatibility with renewable energy sources like solar panels.

Best Use Cases for Electric Floor Heating

Electric floor heating is preferable in scenarios where its specific attributes offer significant benefits:

  1. Small-Scale Projects: Electric floor heating is ideal for small areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, and individual rooms. Its ease of installation and lower upfront costs make it a practical choice for these spaces.
  2. Retrofitting Existing Spaces: Electric systems are well-suited for retrofitting projects. They can be installed without significant structural changes, making them perfect for upgrading existing floors without extensive renovation.
  3. DIY Installation: Electric floor heating systems are available in DIY kits, making them accessible for homeowners who prefer to handle installation themselves. This can reduce installation costs and provide a sense of accomplishment.
  4. Versatile Flooring Options: Electric systems work well with various flooring types, including tile, stone, laminate, and carpet. This versatility allows homeowners to choose their preferred flooring without compromising on the heating system.

Final Thought

Choosing between infrared and electric floor heating ultimately hinges on your specific needs and circumstances. Infrared floor heating offers superior efficiency and rapid heating, making it an excellent choice for well-insulated homes and targeted heating. Its eco-friendly nature aligns well with sustainable living goals. On the other hand, electric floor heating excels in small-scale projects and retrofits, providing a versatile and cost-effective solution for individual rooms.

As you contemplate the best heating solution for your home, consider the balance between upfront investment, long-term costs, and environmental impact. Each system has its unique strengths, but the right choice will enhance your comfort and align with your lifestyle. In the end, the ideal heating system is one that meets your needs while promoting energy efficiency and sustainability. Choose wisely, and your home will not only be warm but also a testament to thoughtful, responsible living.

Infrared vs Electric Underfloor Heating (FAQs)

Are infrared heaters better than electric?

Infrared heaters are more energy-efficient than electric heaters as they directly heat objects. They provide quick warmth and reduce energy loss. Electric heaters can be easier to install and are effective in small spaces. The best choice depends on your specific heating needs.

Should you get infrared heating panels?

Infrared heating panels are ideal for targeted heating and well-insulated homes. They are energy-efficient and reduce carbon emissions. They offer quick and consistent warmth. Consider your home’s insulation and heating requirements before choosing.

Can you heat a whole house with radiant floor heating?

Yes, you can heat a whole house with radiant floor heating. It provides even and consistent warmth. Radiant heating is energy-efficient and reduces drafts. Ensure your home is well-insulated for the best performance.

What’s better, radiant heated floors or central heating systems?

Radiant heated floors offer even warmth and improved energy efficiency. Central heating systems are better for quick, whole-home heating. Radiant floors can reduce energy costs over time. Your choice depends on your heating needs and home design.

Are infrared heaters better than traditional heaters?

Infrared heaters are more efficient as they directly heat objects, not the air. They offer quick and focused warmth. Traditional heaters can waste energy by heating air that escapes. Infrared heaters are better for targeted and efficient heating.

Do infrared heaters raise your electric bill?

Infrared heaters can raise your electric bill if used extensively. They are efficient but still consume electricity. Using them in well-insulated spaces can mitigate the cost. Monitor usage to manage your energy expenses.

Is an infrared heater the same as a space heater?

Infrared heaters are a type of space heater but work differently. They heat objects directly using infrared radiation. Traditional space heaters heat the air around them. Both serve to heat small spaces but use different methods.

Can infrared heaters effectively warm larger rooms?

Infrared heaters can effectively warm larger rooms by heating objects and surfaces directly. They work best in well-insulated spaces. The large surface area they heat ensures even warmth throughout the room. However, room size and insulation level play critical roles.

How does the substrate layer impact radiant heat performance?

The substrate layer’s nature affects radiant heat performance significantly. A well-insulated substrate layer enhances efficiency. Poorly insulated or cold concrete floors can lead to heat loss. Ensuring the substrate is properly insulated optimizes heat retention.

What are the advantages of Herschel infrared heaters over traditional convection heating?

Herschel infrared heaters offer lower energy input and efficient heating. They directly heat objects, reducing energy wastage. Unlike convection heating, they don’t rely on moving parts, making them quieter and more reliable. They are a modern heating solution for various spaces.

Why is it important to have a qualified electrician install electric floor heating?

A qualified electrician ensures the safe and correct installation of electric floor heating. Proper wiring and connection to the mains source prevent electrical hazards. They also ensure compliance with local electrical codes, crucial for safe operation.

Can radiant heat be installed on an insulated intermediate floor of a building?

Yes, radiant heat can be installed on an insulated intermediate floor of a building. Proper insulation beneath the system enhances efficiency. The insulated floor helps retain the produced heat, making the system more effective.

How does the thickness of the floor layer affect infrared heating performance?

The thickness of the floor layer affects how quickly and efficiently infrared heating warms the space. A thinner upper surface allows for faster heat transfer. Thicker layers might delay heating but can retain warmth longer once heated.

Are electric coils in floor heating systems suitable for rooms with poor insulation?

Electric coils in floor heating systems are less effective in rooms with poor insulation. Heat loss through uninsulated walls or floors reduces efficiency. Proper insulation is necessary to maximize the benefits of electric floor heating.

What role does thermal mass play in the efficiency of concrete floors with radiant heat?

Thermal mass in concrete floors helps store and release heat efficiently. It provides consistent warmth over time. However, it requires a longer time to heat up initially. The thermal mass can maintain comfortable temperatures with lower energy input.

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